Limits placed on west Belfast Féile an Phobail after residents’ complaints

Belfast Council and Féile an Phobail festival organisers have made moves to “limit destruction on the local community” in the Falls area when the festival takes place later this summer.

Those running the west Belfast festival, together with the council, have agreed to limit the number of events and place strict conditions on those nights where entertainment runs after 11pm, following a series of complaints from locals after last year’s festival.

However, a council report states that one of its own departments has commented: “For this year’s festival, in addition to the diversionary event, there are three consecutive nights of music proposed to run to 1am, the cumulative impact of which may result in community annoyance.”

At the council’s recent licensing committee meeting, elected members granted a request from the organisers of Féile to permit entertainment planned to run beyond 11pm on up to four occasions, between Saturday August 6 and Sunday August 14. The Féile, billed as ‘Ireland’s Biggest Community Arts Festival’, has been running for 30 years in west Belfast.

Last year’s closing concert at the west Belfast Féile an Phobail

A seven-day annual outdoor entertainments licence and a seven-day annual indoor licence for a marquee had already been granted for Falls Park. The licence covered Monday to Sunday from 11.30am to 11pm.

Councillors granted the late licence until 1am for four events at this year’s festival, for the Féile Diversionary Event dance concert on August 8, for Imelda May and Damien Dempsey on August 12, for the Féile 80s Night on August 13, and for Féile finalé on August 14.

However, the permission came with a list of conditions, following complaints from locals over last year’s festival, when the council’s environmental protection unit received a total of 13 noise complaints. The majority of these related to the volume of music and the finishing time of the dance event on August 8 2021.

A council officer told the committee: “It did run for more nights but in recent years the event organisers have cut that back to three or four nights, to try and limit the destruction on the local community.

“We have contacted the police in relation to these extended hours, but we haven’t received a response as of yet. If you are minded to approve the extended hours, it is suggested this would be subject to a satisfactory response from the PSNI.”

The council report states: “The noise mitigation strategy must demonstrate that noise from the event will not cause unreasonable disturbance to commercial and residential premises.”